By Angie Ledbetter
For a young man who grew up with only one sister, in the country, he loved the game of football. Eighteen-year-old Nicholas Parker, better known to many as “Big,” lives in the Red Hill community, which he refers to as the ‘country.’
With a few hills around, he still managed to find a place to play football at a very young age with his cousins Rikko and Nikko Doyle, Dwayne Dixion, Stetson Rayford and Broderick Pounders.
He started playing football in the seventh grade as a running back at Batesville Junior High School. Since then, he has played fullback and linebacker. His favorite place on the field is linebacker because he loves to hit people, he said.
One can only imagine his eating habits – consisting of any type of turnip greens, pinto beans, green beans and pizza – might contribute to this guy’s speed, hitting and athletic ability all around.
Now a senior on the powerhouse South Panola Tiger football team, he carried a majority of the load last year rushing for 2,500 yards on 357 carries scoring 26 touchdowns. But numbers don’t matter to him as much as winning does. His goal: win the 6A State Championship title his last year.
Parker was the third player to be chosen for the 21st edition of the Clarion-Ledger Dandy Dozen. He is the seventeenth South Panola player to be chosen, the most from any school.
“That meant a lot to me. It meant that I went out on the field and did my job. I was surprised that I made it because I didn’t think I worked that hard but I did.”
He was never part of a losing game until 2008 when his team was beat in the state championship by Meridian.
Parker said, “It felt bad. I felt like I let my team down. Now I have to show them that I can get them back to state this year and win it.”
What did he learn from losing that one game? “I just use it for motivation. The last time we played a game, we lost. Now we’re going out to play and not lose again.”
As Parker smiles big, he says, “I think we’ll go undefeated this year. I expect the state championship title again. My goal is to go back to Jackson and win and I have faith in my team this year.”
Parker has been playing with some of the other seniors since his junior high days.
“We’re very close and like brothers.”
One person he points out is Devin Clark.
Being part of a nationally known team, he talked about his years of playing the game.
“They’ve been great. I’ve loved it. Playing with Tig and all of them, I loved it.”
He said head coach Lance Pogue is a great guy and coach.
“He tells us what we need to do and we do it. He makes us work hard enough to get the job done.”
Parker is known throughout the state as a tough and fast guy.
“It doesn’t really matter as long as my team wins. I’m good.”
When the team wins, he said it feels very good inside.
“It lets me know that we’re a step closer to the state championship game.”
As a mentor to the younger players, he said, “I just tell them to do your school work and football will come to you automatically.”
Parker wants to leave behind to the younger players a good, positive attitude.
“Do good in school, keep your head in the books and do what you go to do.”
He admits it is hard to stay focused and keep up his grades when playing.
“It is kind of hard when you get to playing football but you have to push yourself.”
Another issue of concern is living in small-town Batesville and staying out of trouble.
“It’s pretty hard because there is nothing to do around here. Someone is always going to find some kind of trouble to get in. For me, I just keep with my family out there in the country. I love living in the country.”
Parker not only plays football but basketball, runs track but is quick to tell anyone who listens that football is his favorite because he gets to hit people.
After high school, Parker’s goal is to go to college and he said he’ll go wherever they pick him best. He keeps his grades up because he wants to continue to play ball on the next level.
Parker said, “If the Lord is willing, I’ll make it to the NFL one day.”
His favorite NFL team is the San Diego Chargers because Ladanian Tomlinson (L.T.) is his role model.
Pogue commented on Parker.
“There isn’t a better player in the state of Mississippi better than Nick,” he said. “I was really excited about him making the Dandy Dozen list. I felt like all along he’s make that team. He has played a lot of great football for us. It’s shocking that he is a senior all of a sudden. Two years ago he was a tenth grader and just getting started. All of a sudden he is a senior now. I’m expecting big things out of him this year. I’m going to try to utilize him in every way possible.”